COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Three teams are represented among the Bauer National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Players of the Week for the week of Jan. 27 through Feb. 2, 2020, after all four players led their teams to key wins. Earning Bauer NCHC week 17 weekly honors are Omaha sophomore Taylor Ward for Forward of the Week, Minnesota Duluth junior Scott Perunovich for Defenseman of the Week, North Dakota junior Peter Thome for Goaltender of the Week and UND forward Shane Pinto for Rookie of the Week.
This is Ward’s first career NCHC Forward of the Week honor, though he was a three-time Rookie of the Week last season. Perunovich picked up his fourth Defenseman of the Week nod this season and seventh of his career, while he now has 10 career NCHC weekly awards. Thome earned his third career NCHC Goaltender of the Week award, but first since 2017-18, while Pinto is now a three-time NCHC Rookie of the Week.
Taylor Ward, Omaha
Ward recorded a five-point weekend at home to power Omaha to a split with Western Michigan, including his first career hat trick and a career high in points. In Friday’s series opener, he handed out the primary assist on Omaha’s second goal, which came on the power play, in an eventual 5-2 loss. He also blocked two shots in the loss.
The next night, Ward recorded a career-high four points in a 4-2 victory as he had a hand in all four goals in the win. He dished out the primary assist on UNO’s first goal to tie the game, while he scored the next three goals for a hat trick. His first goal came on the power play to put UNO in front, while he scored the game-winning goal with 4:35 left in regulation to break a 2-2 tie and sealed the win and hat trick with an empty-netter. Ward was tabbed First Star of the Game Saturday when he was +2.
Ward finished the series with three goals, two assists, five shots on goal and an even plus/minus, while he also blocked two shots. On the season, he leads the Mavericks with both 16 goals and 27 points, matching his point total from last season.
Scott Perunovich, Minnesota Duluth
Perunovich was a force all over the ice in Minnesota Duluth’s sweep of the Pioneers, the Bulldogs’ first sweep at Denver since 2004, contributing on both special teams units. He also compiled four points, setting up the game-winning goal both nights, and helped limit DU to only three goals all weekend.
Perunovich opened the weekend with the lone assist on the game-winning goal, which came on the power play, in the second period Friday to break a 2-2 tie in a 3-2 victory. He also blocked four shots. The next night, the St. Louis Blues draft pick dished out three assists, all primary helpers, on UMD’s first three goals to stake them to a 3-1 lead in an eventual 4-1 victory. Perunovich was tabbed Second Star of the Game Saturday, finishing +2 and blocking four more shots. He also helped UMD’s penalty kill go 6-for-7 in the win.
Perunovich ended the weekend with four assists, including two on the power play and two on game-winners, while blocking eight shots, putting two shots on goal and finishing with a +1 plus/minus. He also anchored a penalty kill unit that went 9-for-11 in the sweep of Denver. On the season. Perunovich ranks second in the NCHC and leads all blue liners with 32 points, while his 28 assists are tops among all NCHC skaters.
Peter Thome, North Dakota
In his first time starting both games of a weekend series this season, Thome was rock solid, allowing only one goal all weekend while backstopping North Dakota to a sweep of Colorado College. They were only his third and fourth starts of the season, as well.
In Friday’s opener in Grand Forks, Thome was stellar, stopping all 25 shots he faced, which was needed in a narrow, 1-0 victory over the Tigers. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect made 12 saves in the second period when the game was still scoreless, and stopped four shots short-handed to help kill all three CC power plays. He earned Second Star of the Game for his first shutout of the season and second of his career. A night later, Thome made 14 more saves in an 8-1 rout, including three more short-handed saves to help kill off all five Tiger man advantages.
Thome finished the series with 39 saves on 40 shots for a .975 save percentage and a 0.50 goals-against average to go with his two wins and shutout. Of his 39 saves, seven were short-handed to help UND go a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. Thome is now 4-0-1 on the season with a 1.35 GAA and a .928 save percentage in six games played.
Shane Pinto, North Dakota
Franklin Square, N.Y.
Pinto popped in a pair of goals to help power North Dakota to a home sweep of Colorado College, with one each night. In Friday’s opener, he scored the only goal of the game midway through the third period on the power play to break a scoreless deadlock in a 1-0 victory. He earned First Star of the Game for his game-winning goal and fired six shots on goal.
A night later, Pinto scored another goal, finishing off UND’s 8-1 beatdown of CC by scoring the Fighting Hawks’ eighth and final goal in the third period. The Ottawa Senators prospect put four shots on target Saturday and was +1.
Pinto finished the series with two goals, 10 shots on goal, a +1 plus/minus and three blocked shots. He also won 65.7 percent of his draws against Colorado College, going 23-12 in the center circle. In 25 games this season, Pinto is second on the team with 13 goals and fifth with 22 points.
Forward of the Week
Wade Allison, Sr., F, WMU – Scored two goals in Friday’s win at Omaha, while assisting on both WMU goals in Saturday’s loss, and finished with eight shots on goal.
Jordan Kawaguchi, Jr., F, UND – Totaled four points and was +4 in a sweep of CC, assisting on Friday’s game-winner, while scoring two goals and three points in Saturday’s rout.
Micah Miller, So., F, SCSU – Compiled three points and was +3 in a sweep of Miami, scoring a goal each night while assisting on Friday’s game-winner as well.
Nick Swaney, Jr., F, UMD – Scored three goals, two on the power play, and fired 13 shots on goal in a sweep at Denver, striking once on Friday and tallying two goals, including the game-winner, Saturday.
Defenseman of the Week
Andrew Peski, Sr., D, UND – Dished out a career-high three assists, including on the game-winner, and was +4 in Saturday’s 8-1 win over CC.
Goaltender of the Week
David Hrenak, Jr., G, SCSU – Backstopped SCSU to a sweep of Miami, compiling a .949 save percentage and a 1.00 GAA while recording a shutout on Saturday.
Hunter Shepard, Sr., G, UMD – Totaled 63 saves on 66 shots for a .955 save percentage and a 1.51 GAA in a pair of wins at Denver.
Rookie of the Week
Bobby Brink, Fr., F, Denver – Tallied a goal on Friday and handed out an assist Saturday, while putting seven shots on goal in two losses to UMD.
Nolan Sullivan, Fr., F, Omaha – Scored a goal both nights in a split with Western Michigan, put five shots on goal and went 29-12 (.707) in the faceoff circle in the series.